Friday, December 28, 2012

A Year in SCRAP

This may not look like much, but it represents all of the donations I made to SCRAP this year.  I got curious yesterday, after I made my last donation for this year, to add up how much I had  brought them in 2012.  They weigh everything before they give you the receipt, and then they write it down for you.  I donated about 360 pounds of art and office supplies in a single year!!  That's 360 pounds of paper, plastic, wood and metal that won't be in a landfill!  That's almost a pound a day!

You're welcome crafters!  Hahahaha!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Law & Order

As if the 90 day anniversary post wasn't proof enough, here it is in triptychlicate.  The great white bookcase is upstairs, ready to go into the new office room when there's space there.  You can see the paintings on the rear wall looking less meek as time passes.  The little fox is braver each time an obstacle leaves the path from his tree trunk!  And you can't even see the flower still life in the left hand photo.

The wooden thing in the lower left corner of the far right pic is a bookcase I'm trying to give to a friend if she'll take it, and she knows who she is!  It's ready to get in the trunk of my car and go live with you! 

The white bookcase concealed the "here be monsters" territory I covered in this post over a month ago.  Now you can see it in its full glory.  At least it's mostly books.

I've just returned from the holidays away at my parents' and ready to clean like the wind!  My mom gave me a brand new dish rack for Christmas.  I'd been wanting one but even the cheap ones seemed expensive with a new tray beneath, which I also needed.  The one my mom gave me is deluxe!  Thanks Mom! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Helpful for you, maybe...

I have been glossing through some more reading on the my favorite subject, and it's still not the best use of my time.  Toss, Keep, Sell! by Leah Ingram was good for people who want to make money from things they don't need anymore.  I didn't really need it, because I've been using eBay and Craigslist for years to sell things I don't want.  These are good outlets for a lot of people to get a little extra cash, but it  bothers me that people are making a bundle telling other people that there might be gold hiding in their cupboards and cellars.  I've sold I don't know how many things over the years and I can tell you that it also takes a lot of time to do it.  Especially if you are learning how it's done.

The other book I had was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Decluttering by Regina Leeds.  I liked it a lot, I think it's a great guide for someone who doesn't know where to begin.  It's methodical and breaks the job down room by room, and then each room is categorized into smaller spaces.  It's a smallish book, unlike other Idiots' Guides I'm used to.  I'm embarrassed to be seen in public with this kind of book, you see, so it's nice to be able to conceal it.

I've also got a book from the Real Simple series of lifestyle books, all about cleaning different things in the home room by room.  Things like electronics, appliances, rugs, you name it.  This book also goes room by room.  Unfortunately I don't have the title or author info right now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Là-Bas

It's been about 90 days since the old Fitzrovians began and it's time to evaluate my headway.  As if I haven't been for weeks now.  Still, I've digressed a lot with the parts about my upstairs quarters and I'm going to focus on the basement for this entry.

I would grade myself A+ for thoroughness, A for creative solutions in allocation, B+ for speed and efficiency, B for aesthetics, B for cleanliness (versus tidiness).  As long as something's not coated with dust or has a spider's carapace stuck to it somewhere I'm usually satisified with its sanitation.

So, here is a look back on our beginnings:


And the somewhat refreshing present day:

What's ironic about the title of this blog is that St. Crisp said you never need to clean house: "...After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse."  It's not just dirt I've been worried about, it's avalanches of books and boxes! 

I want to add before I forget that there is a really good resource in Portland for people who are as nuts about recycling as I am: Portland Metro's hotline!  It's 503-234-3000.  They used to have groovy radio ads and I decided to give them a call when I wanted to ditch some odd things years ago.  An operator can tell you who will accept what.

And don't you dare forget The ReBuilding Center.  I had a stack of old plywood in the Bad Apple for a long time, they took it as well as other carpentry bits that were not useful to me.  I found some hand tools that I think they can use too. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Regression Therapy

Sometimes before things get better, they start to look worse than they did after you did all that work to make things look good.  Such is the case with the basement area, which has had a slight temporary setback while I tried to figure out where a shitload of things are going.  I've even sold books and got rid of furniture from the area and it still looks terrible:

The Salvation Army came Thursday and picked up more furniture, this time mainly from upstairs.  I had that little twinge I get when the furniture disappears from view: there's still so much to do.

One of the lessons I've learned while doing this job is that you shouldn't confuse organizing with decorating.  Trying to work out an aesthetic scheme, while you are simply trying to figure out where things should go and what to keep, is a completely separate task.  Yes, things start to look prettier when they aren't bursting off shelves and covering the floor.  But if you try to work out color schemes and space planning at the same time as the decluttering aspect, you might be taking on too much at once.  Keep a notebook to record your ideas along the way.  And I think I've said this before: refrain from shopping for a whole new look with containers and shelves or design accents, because you might not be sure what you need until the worst is over.

That said, I'm trying not to put any pressure on myself about this.  The holidays are here and I am behind on everything to do with presents and the usual planning. That said, I had a mini holiday party this evening where everyone complimented me on how nice everything looked in the living room.  I had to confess that a lot of stuff was hidden in the other rooms behind closed doors.  I should have taken pictures of my snack buffet table, before everything got eaten!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's a mug's game


Here's some music while you read:

The lyrics to the song are a lot sadder than I actually feel, but I'm getting weighed down by the seasonal affective nonsense this week.  I can't seem to keep a train of thought going during the day, and I get weirdly more motivated as it gets later at night.  Right now I was going through a pile of Dylan's sketchbooks and other assorted papers to find safe spots to keep them.

I watched a terrible movie today: The Proposal.  Stupid!  I was hoping for more from Betty White, which is why I borrowed it from the library in the first place.  Sometimes I'll watch a dumb-ish movie while I do housework and I can listen to it without missing much if I'm looking away.  I don't like Ryan Reynolds at all or Sandra Bullock, let that be a lesson to me.

The fact that I had to go to the dentist today didn't help anything either.  And I forgot to bring enough bus fare to pay my way back from OHSU, so I had to walk down the hill in the gloom of a Portland evening.  I kept looking down the steep side of the hill that slopes sharply down from the sidewalk - more of a cliff, really - and thinking that a car could careen off the road and hit me and we'd all go over the edge, and I'd be impaled on a leafless tree branch!!

It's time to bring up the sun lamp from the basement, I think.  This S.A.D. is hitting code yellow, where I feel it but I'm not hopeless yet.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Arrrgh...Aaahhh!!

What is this shit?  It's what I've been trying to figure out today.  I think I got done with it but I may never be sure.  These are all the cables and crap that I've been gathering to sort.  I made another big box to take to Free Geek.  I guess whenever you get a new electronic device it comes with all kinds of stuff.  I've never needed most of it for the last year so chances are I could just ditch it all and be fine.  I think I just echoed something I said in an earlier post, but I just don't care anymore.  Yes, that is Donald Glover of Community on my laptop screen there on the left.  I had to have something to take away the pain as I forked through this mess.

Now, take a look at one of my little triumphs...
I know it doesn't look like much, but it's my home filing system for all of my personal paperwork.  Well, this is one drawer, but it's pretty much the same for the other one.  And the one pictured is the drawer I use all the time.

I used to use multicolored files to make it look interesting and try to group certain categories, but after a while it only looked more jumbled.  I switched to all one color with matching tabs.  I used to work in office supplies so I already had them for years, I didn't have to make a purchase.  Here are my helpful tips for a streamlined file experience:
  1. Keep a folder for "Unpaid Bills" in the front of the drawer, as you can see I have above.  I used to have a "Mail" folder for all incoming stuff to sort, but bills just got lost in there. 
  2. I like to have paper utility bills, but I don't have individual folders for them anymore.  I put them all in one.  I almost never have to look them up so it doesn't make sense to be too pedantic about sorting them.
  3. I've been shredding bills and most other things that are more than a year old.  You can find most statements online now so why bother holding onto them?
  4. I love shredding!!  I now have the big shredder that used to be in Sparkplug's old office.  It gets rid of tension.  It's like a game of bowling but you can do it while watching TV!  Just put on subtitles if you can.
December 16 will mark THREE MONTHS that I have been piloting this blog!  I will make sure to celebrate with some primo photos.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Drudge Report


I spent a big part of today shredding a pile of old checkbooks.  Also I'm figuring out what I need to keep from a big pile of computer books, boxes, wires, and random parts.  Salvation Army will be here next week to take away some furniture.  I can see more and more of the floor in my computer room!

I found at least two sketch/notebooks of Dylan's.  He used to draw in all kinds of random notebooks that he had handy, and keep story and interview information in them.  I am keeping them together to share with our friends if they want to see them.  I still keep a lot of random bits of paper that he wrote on, as well as other ephemera of his that doesn't have a specific category.  I've been saving these little things in a special file for over a year now.

I have to confess that I've been leaving the basement alone more and concentrating on the upstairs area, partly because it's so cold and wet out and I've got heat upstairs.  For an unfinished basement though, mine stays fairly dry and free of mildew.  Right now it's becoming a little more of a catch-all for things I find upstairs that need to leave the house soon.  I've hit a little bit of a wall in the basement too, because some of the furniture down there is just waiting to come upstairs when I make room for it.  Which is exactly what I'm doing.

I tried reading Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post Consumer World, but it was really off the subject of what I meant to study.  I'm not even sure how I found it at the library.  I did learn how to slaughter a chicken humanely from this book, but it made me glad I'm getting more vegetarian.  There are so many pitfalls that I'd feel more sorry for the bird if I had to take it apart.  I'd end up making it inedible.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fitzrovians' first book review

Today I'm reviewing Simpler Living : a back to basics guide to cleaning, furnishing, storing, decluttering, streamlining, organizing, and more by Jeff Davidson.  It's one of the books I took out of the library the other day to give me some hints and inspiration for my tidy-up procedures.

I'll start out by saying I don't consider myself a minimalist by any means.  I like stuff.  "Simpler" living is my goal, but I can't live the Shaker lifestyle.  And don't get me started on feng shui.  I think feng shui, according to the popular wisdom of modern interior design,  is like the unicorns I used to draw when I was in fifth grade.  Some of them had wings, some had rainbow horns, some had beards and some had tiny, dainty feet like ballerinas.  There is no one feng shui.  It has become a magical concept variously interpreted by contemporary weenies that was adapted from actual ancient lore.

That said, I think that Simpler Living isn't bad, but it's kind of overwhelming.  It has simplifying ideas for everything!!!!!  The title alone should be a hint that simplifying isn't so simple.  There are a massive amount of bullet points for every idea.  On a side note, I was also disturbed by the inclusion of a (non-captioned) photo of a basket of toys that included three teddy bears and two Gollywog dolls.  WTF?

I want to keep reading about this subject, for the same reasons as before.  I said once in a previous blog entry that this subject has become my version of porn. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Post Vacation Slack

I'm getting back to my old pace before a week ago,  but it's been hard.  I've been recovering from losing my voice, which is still pretty bad.  I had a cold over a 1 1/2 weeks ago and I've been feeling fine but the voice started to go right before the holiday.  Last night after getting home my first order of business was to hurt my back so badly that I needed to lie down immediately, which also hurt.  It happened just as I was bending down to look into a storage box, so I barely had to do a thing to ruin myself.  My back hurt through most of today, so I decided to take it easy.

I did, however, do some critical cleaning work.  I'd been putting off cleaning off a shelving unit in my garage so I did that today.  None of the things on it were very heavy but I managed to get rid of a lot of stuff on it that had been collecting for a few months.  I still kept the box of bonsai supplies though.  Dylan and I started a bonsai hobby when we first moved in together in 1997 and we just held onto the rocks and fancy planter and other things.  I think I'll give it another go.  2013 will be my bonsai achievement year.

Finally heard from the college that's taking my donation of Dylan's books, they are coming Friday!  I am so glad that students will be learning from these books in a matter of weeks.  Speaking of which, there's already a wonderful collection that Caitlin McGurk is organizing at Ohio State University in Dylan's name.  Check out their blog about the Girl Scouts coming to visit and learn how to do their own comics!  I was a Scout once, I would have loved to have this kind of field trip.

I found this photo of me from my early years, cleanin' of course.  A Cinderella story, outta nowhere. 
La Vida Limpia

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanky-doodle

It's Thanksgiving day and I'm waiting for my sister and her partner to come and get me so we can converge on other family members in a third location.  I wanted to check into my blog while I have a minute.

I only remembered a few days ago that I haven't really consulted any books about cleaning or organizing since I began this struggle.  I've looked at a few websites and recalled some common wisdom but haven't taken an academic approach to this thing yet.  I went to my library's website and put a couple books on hold to get started:
  1. Leeds, Regina.  The Complete Idiot's Guide to Decluttering. 
  2. Davidson, Jeff.  Simpler living : a back to basics guide to cleaning, furnishing, storing, decluttering, streamlining, organizing, and more. 
I already had 13 books on hold so I couldn't add any more after these two.

I don't think I'm going to learn a lot of surprises.  I really just want some inspiration.

Speaking of which, here's a show I really liked that I don't think is on anymore: How Clean Is Your House?  It originated in England, and then it became a program on American cable with the same two sassy ladies.  I know mine isn't even close to what they've seen, but right now it's in a state. 

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Every day in every way...

...things are getting better and better, said John Lennon to Sean.  Here's a corner I worked on for about two hours this afternoon.  Does it show?
I had to crop it, you can see in the lower right a portion of a porno-graphic novel that I culled from the Bad Apple's stock.  Whoopsie!

You can see some of the great art I've got downstairs.  The piece in the yellow frame is a painting by my friend Sean Christensen A.B.T.  I made it a note on my to-do list to start finding frames for prints and think about moving my art around again. 

I'm reading one of the latest novels by Juliet Marillier, Shadowfell.  She usually does fantasy fiction that takes place in more or less a real time and place in history, but this seems to be pure fantasy.  I like it but it's more on the juvenile side of her genre.  I've read all of her writing so far and I have another of her new works on hold at the library, where it's getting processed as a new book.  I'm in it to win it.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Just because

I don't have a lot to say today.  I just wanted to drop in, mainly.  I've been feeling great these last couple days.  I think it has something to do with the beautiful fall weather we've been having.

I did a little sorting out of the laundry room, where I've been keeping a lot of movies.  How do you reattach a label from a dvd box when it's fallen off?  I seem to have a lot of those to fix.  I made a box of stuff to take to Free Geek.  I feel like I'm making custom gift baskets for celebrity award show swag every time I go downstairs.

I decided that it's in my best interests to give things away to charity than to make huge efforts to sell them, unless they seem like a sure thing.  My time is too valuable to plan the future life of every object I have.  I decided a long time ago that unless it's beautiful, or of real sentimental value, or very useful, then it doesn't need to take up space in my home.  Function over form and all that.  I can't hold onto everything waiting for the perfect time to have a garage sale.  My sanity is most important right now, not making five bucks in my driveway or putting every little tchotchke on eBay.

Did I mention that I'm making my bed every morning now?  For most of my life I rarely bothered, but I do it now right after I get up.  It's a nice habit that came out of my new quest for neatness.  I read a book about changing habits recently: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg.  It says that changes to one habit lead to other positive changes, and this is an example.  I'm also trying to keep my kitchen cleaner and my refrigerator stocked.  I also make a hot breakfast every morning.  By that I mean oatmeal and fruit.  Maybe the breakfast thing came before the bed making though.




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What's behind the mask

Things have come a long way and I'm willing to give myself credit, but there's always another mountain to climb.  Here is a picture of that mountain.  The photos I had taken a few days ago concealed what's going on on the far wall of the room: all these books and magazines.  I think I'm going to get radical with this area.  I'm not going to reveal what I mean yet, but I promise I won't set any fires.

Someday, it would be nice to have a roommate.  I'm not ready for one, but even if I was he or she couldn't move in.  There's too much upstairs that might have to come down here, and there's not enough room still.

While cleaning tonight though, I cleaned up an item I found on the street a long time ago that should help me sort a few treasures:
It was filthy, but now it's on a shelf holding art supplies.  I came up with a new tip: If you can fit a container on a shelf that will hold things that you normally put in a unit that sits on the floor, go with the shelf thingy.  Freeing floor space will free your mind.  Every time I get something off the floor for good I feel ten times better.

I'm having another brainwave about having a garage sale or combining efforts with my mom in a couple weeks and bringing things up to Olympia to sell in her sale.  She has a better garage.  But, I would pay in time and gas traveling up to Oly, and I'd have to hold onto the things for longer.  Those Freakonomics guys should do a study on all the reasoning I am putting into where and when I disperse my possessions.

Black Snake Moan

Part of the problem of being married to someone who saved everything is that when it comes time to take inventory of what's around, I can't tell what parts belong to what.  Over the years we had a number of dvd & video devices, both for home use and portable, and there are a million cords and chargers and coaxial cables and carrying cases that are piling up.  I know some of them will go to Free Geek, but I'm making a big stack of whatever I find so I can be sure to have what I need "just in case".  I made a shelf in the laundry room just to collect all the technical stuff I don't know what to do with yet.  It's a big black snaky mess.  I found two old cameras I didn't know existed, and one case between them.  I guess I should take comfort in the fact that if the VCRs and such that I used currently are working properly then I don't need more cables to support them.  I did find a remote control for a laser disc player I had given to a friend months ago, I should see if she wants that.  It had a dried up spider sticking to it, ugh!

That brings me to another facet of this job that I dislike, and that's the fact that there are spiders, and occasionally centipedes, in the basement.  I can't stand them, I have a phobia.  It's one reason why I'm going so slowly, I anticipate ahead that there are going to be pests living in the boxes and shelves I need to empty.

Now I'm going to change the subject to something more pleasant - let's watch Eric Burdon of the Animals.  Introduced by the immortal Otis Redding!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

St. Crisp, or, I'm So Glad You Asked

Someone asked me today about the title of my blog and I never really thought to explain it before.  It started out as a different kind of blog, you see, and as I told my friend today I kept the name because I don't want anyone else to use it.

This is Quentin Crisp:
He wrote several books, among them was a memoir called The Naked Civil Servant.  It's about his life as an openly gay young man in London at a time when homosexuality was illegal in England.  The title of my blog is adapted from a line from this book.  Fitzrovia was a bohemian part of London, where notables like Virginia Woolf once lived, and where Quentin hobnobbed with his friends. 

Here's another photo of Quentin, a still from a great movie called Orlando (based on the novel by Ms. Woolf):
His career seemed to really take off in his old age, with writing and acting and spoken word performances galore.  He was working past his 90th birthday.  How amazing is that?

There were two movies made about him, and John Hurt played him in both, three decades apart: The Naked Civil Servant and An Englishman in New York.  You can borrow them both from the Multnomah County Library!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Eeeeek!!

I'm so thrilled, you can really see the floor in my new photos!  And those piles of boxes?  Disappearing as we speak, because I'm finally using them up.  I still have a conundrum about getting rid of some furniture, as well as a number of lamps that I don't yet have a use for.  They're kind of heirlooms though, I don't want to say goodbye yet.
So far my blog experiment has been an unqualified success.  I'm really following through on the cleanup downstairs and up, and seeing a big change.  There's a long way to go yet but I'm not down about it anymore. I have a different perspective on the manageability of my stuff and the process.

Having this blog to get people to witness this project has got me thinking about other ways I could use blogging to change some of the things I do, or to accomplish goals that I want to achieve.  I don't need an audience for every single thing, but having one in this case really worked.

Here's another view:
Now you can pay attention to the art on the walls instead of the forest of clutter that was there!  I know it's not perfect, but baby steps and all.

I've been reading a book called 9 Highland Road, by Michael Winerip.  My therapist recommended it to me, because I'm interested in reading about mental illnesses.  It's about a group living home for mentally ill folks who are trying to acclimate to life outside psychiatric hospitals.  The actual house is located in a small town on Long Island.  It's about some of the individuals that lived there, as well as their counselors and their experiences getting along in the community.  There's nothing like reading this to let me know that my problems are small.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Another Beer Please

I finally caved and rented Game of Thrones from Movie Madness last night.  I have it on hold at the library but I'm about #350 of 500 holds, and that's for season one.  Everything people have been telling me about it has turned out to be absolutely true: massive amounts of female toplessness, sex and violence, plenty of gore.  And that's just in the first 15 minutes of episode one!  Peter Dinklage is great as ever.  I'm not sure why there isn't more male nudity.  If HBO has a nudity quota, there should be yin and yang.  Behinds almost don't count anymore, after everything we've had to view on NYPD Blue on network TV years ago.

I was away for a while over the weekend but I made up for it last night by assembling the wooden shelves I had repaired.  I put them in the laundry room.  I've already got a call in to Salvation Army to get some furniture I don't want.  I can't understand why you need to schedule pickups a couple weeks ahead, but it gives me time to add to the giveaway quantity.  I also can't understand why a simple do-it-yourself pine shelving set is so hard to get to fit together correctly.  I KNOW it's not because I hit it with my car, because I've had this problem before with another, identical shelf.

Things are looking pretty good in the basement, it's almost time for another update photo.  I've extended  my efforts to include the laundry room.  I had a bittersweet moment last night when moving a shelf and sweeping; I found some of Dylan's underwear and socks that had fallen behind the dryer long ago.  I washed them today, and put them in a collection of special things of his I'm keeping.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Getting to be a little much

I'm doing a few clean-y sort-y things tonight so that I can get them out of the way before I spend the day doing fun comic-y things tomorrow.  I repaired a pine storage shelf, the kind you can take apart that usually comes in a kit, which I had repeatedly rammed with my car in the garage until the slats started to splinter.  It was uncharacteristically lazy of me to leave it in the garage in the first place, and even worse when I realized that it was kind of in the way of the car.  I was waiting until there was more room elsewhere to move it, now I spent a bunch of time gluing and weighting down and such.  This is was a good lesson to learn.  Now it's almost as good as new. 

I've been going through those little white storage boxes on the shelves and figuring out which contents to keep.  As I said in a much earlier post, this is a process.  I want to keep a lot of my craft supplies, but I don't need quite so many of the same thing, say, a whole handful of chopsticks.  I'm glad that different people staff the donation stations at SCRAP because I think they must wonder where I'm coming from with all of these random office and art supplies.  I unearth something new every day.

Now I've decided to streamline the shelves in the basement, so I'm sticking to the white plastic boxes.  I'm addicted to containers, but too many sizes and colors add to the messy look.

I'm questioning even more my attachment to things as I handle them.

Here's a little tip: the shoebox size containers I have are great for photo storage!  I can't believe I havdn't thought of it before.  For years I had an orange and green box from Target that was made to hold pics, but I decided to retire it.  Orange and green?  What was I thinking?  I'm proud to be Irish American but the colors of the Irish Republican flag offend my eyes when it comes to decorating.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It was written in the stars...

Look what I tore out of a free weekly paper I found in Cottage Grove, Oregon a few weeks ago!  It was just a little while after I'd begun this blog, and I was on my way down south to visit my family.  It's the "Free Will Astrology" horoscope for my sign, Taurus, from that week (the last week of September, if I'm correct):
You'll have to click on it to really read it.  It was extra encouraging to see that Rob Brezsny has picked up on my cosmic cleaning rays and reflected their positive energy back in my direction.

For years now I've been aware that my energy really picks up in the late afternoon, around 4pm, and can keep up until around midnight.  I got on a real roll yesterday with the sorting I was doing, and I couldn't make myself stop until about 1am!  I came to the conclusion last week that I have to start making myself get up earlier in the morning though.  I set an alarm for 11:30 at night to go off to signal that I should start getting ready for bed.  My goal is to get up about an hour earlier in the mornings.

I have some friends picking up a few pieces of furniture tomorrow that I don't use.  And I'm getting closer and closer to getting the books catalogued and ready to be picked up by the college!

I'm going to go downstairs after this and do a little more work on the basement.  I'll get a few more pictures online tomorrow for the big update!

As if to underscore my alignment with fate, I glanced at Facebook where someone had shared a link to this Pinterest board belonging to a Liesl Kirschman Artherton.  Lots of cleaning tips right here!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's ok, I'm authorized

I forgot that I did this organizing/moving/space planning thing for a living at one time.  It's been a long time since I had a long term, full time job.  For a lot of reasons, things that happened less than two years ago seem more like a decade in the past.  Back in 2006, I worked for a company that contracted with Intel to move their office spaces and set up new ones.  I'd have to get these big groups of people to pack up their cubicles and I'd get a moving crew to take all their stuff to another place in their building.  Sometimes they'd move to a whole other building or campus.  That seems like a big job.  Then why does my house seem like such a big deal?  Wait, wait, I already know the answer to this. 

A year and a half ago I also worked for a company that also built offices, but furniture and fixtures from scratch.  I have to remind myself that I'm a pro!

I picked up a lot of crap from my bedroom floor this morning, it's been terrible for a long time.  I'm a DJ so I keep my CD library in there, and week after week I had been putting off shelving the CDs in order.  So, I did it today.  This whole straightening business is showing me what a perfectionist I am.  I was concentrating so hard on it that I missed a big stack of random papers that were sitting on the floor and spilling in a heap off a shelf. 

I did a lot of cleanup this evening tonite in the basement after visiting with some friends.  Sometimes I get started and without meaning to I just keep going and going until I don't see anything else I can take care of in that space of time.  In this picture that I just took, you can compare a section of my work with just the previous blog entry:
I figured out something else about myself that kind of bothers me on a couple levels: I want my containers to match.  Remember the one that had a purple lid?  I had to take that off the shelf and replace it.  I don't know what I'll do with it yet.  Uniformity of some things can help make a messy sight look a little better.  It seems like a form of snobbery to need that but if it makes me feel a little better then I'm just going to go with it.

I've been doing pretty well, as far as managing my depression.  I'm just putting as much as I can into my day to keep busy and checking things off my list.  Many years ago I found that even anticipating those feelings, or considering them in any way, made me anxious.  I didn't know how to deal with them, but after some therapy and trying different things I can head off the worst of it before it happens.  Most of the time.  I also have great friends that help me all the time, I have the best friends ever.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Limits of Control


I took a picture of some storage shelves downstairs because they need work, obviously, but it brought to mind some comments I wanted to make about my and other people's cleanup habits.  I noticed that some people buy a lot of containers so they can just stack everything they have.  I'm trying to get to the point where I need fewer containers.  I already have a lot of my buying under control.  There used to be a time when my favorite place to look in a thrift store was the shelves where all the little ceramic figurines sit.  I wanted to have loads for my curio shelves on the wall, and pretty soon I had to put them in those storage containers you see above.  I still have a lot but I try to get a couple a year instead of a handful every few days!

Not much progress has been made since my last entry.  I forgot that when you move the big things, like furniture, you have to find new places to stack the little things.  So now I have that little problem.  Not a terrible thing, but I think I know a way to take care of it for the time being.  I'm going to have to make use of some of those cardboard boxes I showed you before. 

I feel like I shouldn't even be writing here today.  My thoughts have been with my friends on the east coast all day.  I just wanted to make myself do something just a little bit constructive that I have some control over.

 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Free Will vs. SAD

Thanks everybody who has been reading my silly blog, I really appreciate it.  Thanks also to my new followers.  I hope I'll have more soon, but then I forget to be an official follower of my friends' blogs so I don't really deserve it.

As much as I am loathe to I decided to dive into cataloging all the books I'm donating, I made a nice spreadsheet and it's going faster than I thought it would.  I've got to take pictures of all of them too, can you believe it?  I hope the tax man doesn't want photos someday of all the crap I gave to Goodwill this year, because I sure have a lot of receipts for it.  I am asserting my willpower over my urge to put off the book stuff, because after getting back from California last week I became acutely aware that my good spirits wouldn't last while I am procrastinating.  We've had driving rain for days, whereas when I left for the Bay Area and during my trip there'd been nothing but sunshine.  I'm trying to head off any feelings of depression this season.  I have some problems every winter, but this year I'm going to be aware of them before they happen and use some focus to work through them.  I really want to get my living room ready again to have friends over and it's hardly in that state now.

Here is a piece from a really good DVD zine from some creative folks in Canada, it's called the Winking Circle.  I found it at random at the library!
Watching stuff like this makes me feel a lot better about the world. 

In other news, two of my friends had to follow me down into the basement today so we could get to my garage & drive away.  They could see for themselves that I've been working hard! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Day After Xmas

The Salvation Army came yesterday to pick up a few things from my house, including that blond wood thing I mentioned in a previous post.  I moved all the donations to my garage for easy grabbing, and I had to put the blond unit on a "piano mover" trolley to get it about 10 feet from where it had been resting since August.  It was sooo heavy!  Just to get it on the trolley took imagination.  It's nice to see things go when they need to be out of the way, but when they're gone it's kind of like when a holiday happens and you want more afterwards.

Here's a pic of the basement room now that the donations are gone:
You can see there's been a lot of progress since day one of this blog.  You can see the floor.  It's hard to tell that there's a path beyond the towers of stuff, but it's there.

I should have taken a picture of the laundry room, where I kept a lot of the things I was thinking about giving to S.A.  I'd forgotten what the washing machine and dryer looked like.

The above photo doesn't show something I'd like to hide, but it needs to be seen:
It's in the same room, just out of view to the right.  Boxes I'm saving for the bookopalypse upstairs.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Down in Hayes Valley

I've been back from the Bay Area for a few days now.  It was one crazy, fully packed trip!  I saw so many good friends and family members.  Alameda, California is a second home to me and if I didn't love Portland so much I might move there.

I had a great time visiting a part of San Francisco with which I was until recently unfamiliar: Hayes Valley.  It's the kind of place where I couldn't afford most of anything that my friend and I saw in the stores, but I'm going to mention them all because we had fun and got a lot of good ideas.  I'm still searching for the perfect bedspread, and we stopped in Reliquary to see a quilt I had looked at on my last trip.  If you follow the link, you can see many of their colorful quilts on a shelf.  Alas, it was too small but at least I have another reason not to spend money I don't have on it.  We paid another visit to Lotus Bleu to see their rugs and textiles again.  It's such a beautiful store, the kind of place I tell myself I'll come back to when I have the money.  One of my favorite places that day was Nancy Boy  , a store with vintage furnishings and their own line of bath products.  The guy that worked there was super nice.  One of the reasons I decided to blog about the place is that he told us that they get business through word of mouth, so I wanted to make sure I did my bit.  He also recommended that we try mixing tea with "cawfee" sometime for a surprisingly refreshing and delicious beverage.  I haven't tried it yet but I will, though for now all I have at home is herbal tea and instant decaf so I don't think it'll be as good as promised.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ah, San Francisco

I'm attending a convention here in the Bay Area, and it happens to be in the Design District of San Francisco.  It's not an interior design convention, but the Alternative Press Expo or A.P.E.  I'm getting inspired by a lot of creativity here.  I'm lucky because I parked in an area where there are some great stores, such as Roche Bobois, a European furniture place.  These are some very high end shops!  My tastes aren't really expensive (as you can probably tell from the pictures you've seen so far) but I can appreciate good quality when I see it.

I'm looking for a really great bedspread I saw in a book called Paris Style vol. II, it was in the bedroom of Christian Louboutin.  I can't find a picture of it at all on the net, so here's a photo of a chair in his living room to give you an idea of his aesthetic.  He's the shoe designer, in case you don't know who I'm talking about.

The bedspread doesn't really look like this, but it's very bold and colorful and exotic.  I think I stand a chance of finding something to fit what I'm after here in the Bay Area, don't you think so?

Friday, October 12, 2012

My blog is growing up!

My blog has one "follower", that feels like a big deal.  Thanks follower!

Again I'm away from my nest, but I did a few cleanup things this week.  After big move I did about a month ago, where I closed an old office/store, I had a few pieces of merchandise that I took over to the new office.  Instant clean space! A couple square feet of it, anyway.  I thought I'd have time to sell more books and get them out of the way, so I put them in my car.  They are still in there, I didn't get the time.

I've had this half-baked idea for a garage sale in the next couple weeks, but I don't know if the weather will be inclement by then.  It's been an unusually pleasant, sunny autumn  for Portland, OR.  I heard that it rained in Olympia today so those days might be over for the next five months.

Many years ago, I had a job working for a woman who was a shut-in.  We'd clean her house, but she could only stand to do about a square foot a day most of the time.  She couldn't go out because she had environmental sensitivities, and she was allergic to dust from cleaning.  I keep thinking about her these days.  I'd have to wear a space helmet to do everything I'm doing.

As for the books I'm donating, my accountant tells me I need to take pictures of the books and write down titles, authors, market value, etc.  Do you remember how many there were in that photo?  Well, now there are more!  I hope this is all worth it.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Heavy Matter Pt. 2

A couple friends came over tonight and helped me move more books - I think I am ready to take this donation process to the next level!  There are about twice as many book stacks now in my living room.

I will be contacting my accountant tomorrow to ask about tax deductions and itemizing the things that are going.  After running a sole proprietorship this whole year, I want to get the maximum deduction possible!  I had to pay a massive amount of tax this year and I don't want to experience that again.  As I'm donating a few hundred books, I want to do the least amount of work possible to get the deduction form complete.

As for the basement, that is coming along very well.  If the great weather holds up into next week I'd like to have a small garage sale.  That might be a good way to say goodbye to a few pieces of furniture that are clogging up the floor area down there.  I have two lovely chairs and a side table that I can't really use, as well as all of those books and household goods I couldn't get rid of otherwise.

I've been cycling a bit through my emotions - I feel a sense of accomplishment for a while, and then I feel low.  I keep reminding myself that a few months ago I was going through a similar thing when I had to get rid of some old furniture in order to make room for a gift of new furniture.  I got through that, and I've had a lot of experience trying to make the basement the way I want.  Maybe I just have to give up on the basement altogether!

One tool I've found useful for this project is an egg timer.  If I set it for about half an hour and just clean and sort (or use it for any other chore), and I stick to it.  When I set a time limit, I look harder for little things that need doing.  I don't try to rush, but I do try to be more thorough.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Heavy Matter


This looks like a lot of books, and it IS a lot of books!  But it's far from all of them.  This is just what is in my living room right now, and there are many more in another room waiting to join them.  These belonged to my husband Dylan, they are part of his special collection that I'm getting ready to donate to a college library.  I've had some friends over to help with sorting them, and they've done me the great favor of taking some for their own personal bookshelves.  They were also friends of Dylan's during his lifetime, so I know the books will be enjoyed.

This has been a difficult process.  It is hard to let go of them even though I didn't use them myself a whole lot.  I am making sure to keep many that I love especially.  I have a habit of placing too much importance on how something is used once it leaves my possession - this is partly why I obsessively recycle and donate goods.  The funny thing is I usually don't regret getting rid of things. 

The basement cleaning continues, but the "book parties" as I've been calling them have been my focus for the last three days.  I'm dreading the part where I catalog them for tax purposes, but one thing at a time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pilgrim's Progress


So, I worked a long time tonight just cleaning the basement.  I wish I had picked up some daytime allergy meds today, because now I'm paying for it.  It's too early for a Benadryl tablet, they put me right to sleep!

If you compare this photo with the one I posted September 16th, you can see there has been some change.  Since that time I've sold a lot of books or given them away to Title Wave, and donated arty goods to SCRAP,  or just made a pile for Salvation Army.  I have a laundry room off to the side, and it's now the place where I put the household item donations.  Despite the fact that things are actually leaving this basement room, the change doesn't look like a whole lot.

See that blond wood thing on the floor in the middle?  That's a piece of furniture that really needs to go.  I wish I gave it away when I had a chance weeks ago!  When one of my friends was helping me move it in here, he asked, "Is this thing made of concrete?"  It's probably heavier than a lot of other bigger furniture I have, and now it's stuck where it is because it's too heavy for me to drag up the stairs.

If I had more pictures of the room from different angles you could see that I have made good progress, and I should be pleased. 

I discovered a clever means of making a "shelf helper", which is what those white plastic-covered wire things were that I was praising September 30th.  I took four bricks (39 to 44 cents each at Home Depot) and laid a wire shelf that I found for free on the sidewalk across the top.  I think the shelf I found would normally be attached to brackets on a wall.  It's not a very dressy look but it did the trick for a basement bookcase I have.

I've been reading The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff, and I'm almost done.  There was a movie made based on it called The Eagle, starring Channing Tatum.  The book is much, much better.  It takes place in Britain in the Roman era, one of my favorite periods of history.  I understand this book was written for young adults, but it's a great read at any age.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A little bit of plastic



What I have pictured here are some small implements that can change your life!  They don't look like much, but they've been a great help to me and I didn't even know they existed until just over a year ago.  They sit right on a shelf, just about any shelf in a cupboard, and they give you a little more surface to set things on.  They're especially good for small objects, because you can set them on top and slide little things right under them.  Because they're not really as deep as a cupboard, you can stand things in front of them that are taller.  If you look at my previous entry, you can see them in action.  On the larger wire tray at right, I included some small vintage trays to set on top to show how they can hold tiny things that will slip through the openings.

My mother gave me the larger wire thing, as well as others.  I got about ten of the smaller ones at a yard sale for ten cents each.  I took all that they had!

This leads me to another pointer: you don't have to spend a lot to get sorted.  Keep an eye out at yard sales for containers.  You don't have to have a closet company come in and build a thing that looks like a cat hotel for your shoes and shirts.

I just returned from a week's visit with my family in California.  I have to admit that the continuing endeavors to clean out my basement were in my thoughts more than once. It's a creative project, and it's making me look at myself and my surroundings in a new way.  I think it's partly because I've turned some corners in the grieving process for my husband, and I'm looking at possessions as separate from memories.  It's very hard but it's extremely important for me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Question All Advice

At this moment I'd like to mention a few bits of advice that I've heard from so-called organizing gurus that I don't think are especially helpful to me.  Not that you should ignore them completely, but I think it's best for you to come up with your own system of doing things after considering the angles.

Here's one thing I hear a lot: "If you haven't used/worn it in a year, get rid of it.  You'll never use it."

My amendment to that is, put the thing in question in a place where you'll see it a lot.  That is, if you really kind of like it and hate the thought of parting with it straight off.  Give yourself a little time to decide.  It's not like it's going to get any bigger and take up MORE space.

A similar maxim to the above is, if you catch yourself saying, "I might use this someday, I can't get rid of it," well, maybe you will really use it again someday!  But again, you need to have it where you can think about it more than you have been.  It's true that we tend to pack things away and forget about them, then dig them out and get excited all over again about having them.  The trick is to put it in your own way for a while so you will actually use it.

I'm no minimalist, as my friends will tell you, but I hate random piles of detritus collecting everywhere.  That's why I have a couple cupboards where I just keep tchotchkes that I intend to rotate in and out of the bric-a-brac I keep out on display fulltime.  I try not to keep buying new things is all.  When you have some pretty objets that you can switch out with the vases and such, your home feels like a new place all of  a sudden.


Not long ago, I did empty out a number of boxes of china artifacts I'd been storing and I did decide that they no longer suited my tastes.  I put a few on eBay, and some I ended up taking to a vintage store I love, Village Merchants.  They are in Portland, on SE Division.  They will give cash for things they take, but I always get trade which ends up being worth more.  Then I can get something that I really want or need.  This store has furniture and other home decor stuff, but they also have clothing and jewelry.  I can't say how much I love this place!  One of my favorite stores in Portland, hands down.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A few words before bed...

I'm up so late because I spent the evening with my sister and her boyfriend - they cooked me dinner and then we watched A Dangerous Method, one of the latest movies by David Cronenberg.  It's the one about a female patient of Carl Jung who also eventually became a revered psychoanalyst, before WWI.  It was fantastic, but wasted a little bit on me because I dozed off a couple times and lost a few seconds here and there.  I just need to catch up on sleep, there was nothing wrong with the story.  I'd like to watch it again so I catch all the dialogue and fully process everything.

I'm away from where I usually write my blog so I can't insert some clever pictures or document my home improvement project.  I haven't been able to do it in a few days.  After I wrote my entry for yesterday I thought that my advice was too pithy.  The truth is when I get back to what I was doing I plan to move into the more difficult stage of my mess management, and I've been talking around it.  A huge reason I'm doing all of this is because my husband died last year, and I need to get down to finding some new homes for his huge collection of books and some other possessions, but mostly books.  I have a hard time conveying to anyone the monumental task this is, not just emotionally, but the sheer amount of material there is to deal with.  Part of me wants to take another year to manage it all, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that in order to deal with his passing I'm going to have to face parting with some of his things.  He was an artist, a scholar and a writer, and I've made arrangements with a local art college to take a large amount of his books.  This way I know that students will continue to learn from them, and they'll be a place that prizes them.  It's hard to look at his things as just stuff.  My husband tried to make it seem like his things weren't especially important, but he collected them lovingly over years' time and they helped him make his own contributions to art and writing.

I think the best way for me to handle this task is to involve friends to work alongside me.  It might make the job go faster and it will be good to have their support.  I look at a lot of the organizing work I've done so far  as groundwork for the toil ahead of me. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Am I there yet?

I decided a couple weeks ago that I was going to treat this organizing project as a process, not a destination.  Only a couple days ago I was taking a long journey by car.  It occurred to me that if I thought of the trip as a series of little sections, it would be more bearable than wondering at what time I would end up at the city I was aiming to visit.  Like, if I told myself, I'll stop in Cottage Grove and then I'll stop in Grant's Pass, then  it gave me little goals to meet.  I didn't become impatient with myself for not getting to my last stop by a specific time, and I enjoyed the whole trip a lot more.

Thusly I am approaching my decluttering objectives.  If I say to myself, today I'm going to sort out this pile of papers on my couch and focus on that until it's done the way I want, then I don't get overwhelmed.  In contrast, when I look at my basement, or my computer room, or any whole room as a whole, I feel like I will never get through it.  Little bits of success make me want to see more.  You can't go through a garden and thresh out every weed in a single sweep; you must pull out each little nuisance one by one.

This process can be fun.  Additionally, I've found so many lost items while sorting that I want to see what else will turn up.

Last week I decided to apply this approach to my work in my living area.  I had been spending so much time taking things out of the basement that my upstairs was getting out of control.  After just a few hours I had a clean living room and kitchen, and the linen closet was looking a lot better too.  I had an even bigger pile of things to donate to Salvation Army, which went down to the basement to await their truck on pickup day.

I'm so preoccupied with decluttering as a hobby as well as a necessity, that I've begun treating it as a form of pornography.  I've been surfing before-and-after pictures of basements, bedrooms, closets and kitchens that underwent cleanups on Google Images.  I hunted down articles with tips and personal case histories.  I don't know if they helped so much as made me want to dive into their messes and see if I could make some headway.

Gretchen Rubin, author of the book The Happiness Project, has lots of great advice for living well, and counts decluttering as an excellent way to raise your spirits.  Read her upbeat blog here. 

 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Upstairs Downstairs

While perusing the DVD shelves of my local library yesterday I came across an unexpected gem.  It's a British reality show called Manor House; much like the 1900 House series of a few years ago.  Here's a description I read on IMDB:

"21 people from the 21st century are being brought together in an Edwardian Country House. 6 of them are the Upstairs family and the 15 others are the servants. For three months, these people have only the rulebook and each other..."

I put it down at first because as a rule I hate reality television, but then I realized this show fits right into my particular tastes.  The point of the show is to have the family and other people involved live with the social protocols and everything else contemporary to  the Edwardian manor house style. If you've ever seen Gosford Park (one of my favorite movies ever)  or Downton Abbey, these illustrate perfectly the kind of life this show is trying to have the participants recreate.  Thankfully, it's not a contest, but it is a challenge to the people involved to cleave to the social roles (as well as the lack of technology) from back then.  I love movies that take place in this kind of household.  I don't long for those times, let's make that clear, but I do think a (fictional) manor house is a perfect place to have dozens of intrigues going on at once.  Scandalous!

Here's a clip of Manor House!

As far the upstairs vs. downstairs in my own house goes, I'm finding that I have to be sure I'm not just hiding things from myself, that they really are being put away or given away.  The room I'm sitting in right now has become the defacto extra storage room, especially when guests arrive.  They think my house is so clean because the walls in here are straining with junk!  And that's what I'm trying to do away with in general.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You don't LOOK like a chili dog

More selling of books today, and donating to Title Wave.  You may think that my whole life right now is sorting out my crap, and you would be partly right.  I don't have a full time job at the moment, and this is an urgent matter, so I'm trying to stick with it as much as I can.  Also, I worked very hard closing down the store I ran, The Bad Apple, so I'm trying to take it kind of easy.  I messed up my back a little and I have a recurrence of plantar fascitis in my right foot.  I'm only lifting little things for now, and using a cart whenever possible.

Here's an old photo of The Bad Apple, around the time my husband Dylan opened it with his friend Tim three and a half years ago:



That's Patrick McGoohan's face on the wall there, though if you've ever watched The Prisoner you don't need to wonder where that still is from!

This is only a very small portion of the stuff it eventually had.  Books, books, books, and lots of dvds and vhs tapes.  Not to mention the furniture and fixtures.  And, wait, there was a back room where Dylan ran a comic book publishing company, Sparkplug Comic Books.  Here's a photo of that, from way back:



When I think it will be too hard to get my personal space in order, I tell myself that I coordinated moving everything in this space (which was much more stuff than you see here).  This was an 1800sf space!  I should be able to manage the 200sf or so that I am overseeing now.

I'd like to say a word here about Craigslist, and what a help it was to me over the last few weeks!  I sold a few pieces of furniture, and that was great for raising the money needed for the move and the new Sparkplug location.  However, the "free stuff" classifieds are just as good when you need to get a load out quickly.  It's like getting a moving company for free!  I got rid of some huge, slightly damaged metal shelves that I was dreading having to take out on my own. The same for a big old sofa bed with tears and stains.  People will take the weirdest things as long as they're free!  I got about 75 email inquiries in just a few hours on one ad.

Portland Store Fixtures was pretty great for this kind of thing too.  They bought a couple fixtures and completely lowballed me (I mean LOWballed).  But, they offered to take anything else that I didn't want.  Apparently they have ways of recycling that thrift stores can't do.  I gave them all the damaged or flat out broken stuff that I had left after the Craigslist sweep.  The only thing the pickup dude wouldn't take was a pane of chipped glass that I was having trouble throwing out.  Whatever, I just thought I'd ask if he wanted it.  This experience has kept my enthusiasm for the Portland Store Fixtures high.  I got compensated in junk removal.  If I ever wanted to start a new store, I know they'd have whatever I needed and cheap-ish, so I still think they're rad.

I was watching NCIS Los Angeles this evening while making yet another pile of things to take to SCRAP* and a guy in it says "Now I feel like a chili dog" after looking at some photos of a criminal rendezvous at the Santa Monica pier, or someplace like that.  The girl he's talking to looks at him dumbfounded.  Just LOOKS at him.

*SCRAP, 2915 NE MLK Blvd, Portland OR 97212 (503-294-0769), scrappdx.org.  Best place ever to find cheap and plentiful donated art supplies!  Best place to donate them to also!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Psychopath Test

I managed to make it to Goodwill and sell some books at the Hawthorne branch of Powells today.  The guy buying my books took so long that the other buyer met with at least three other individuals before I was done.  I have a lot of books left over - I plan to save them up and give a pile to Title Wave, the bookstore that raises money for the Multnomah County library system.  A lot of them might end up in the Friends of the Library booksale, which is where they started out before they ended up in my store.  The circle of life for a book.  

I've been reading a book by Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test.  I'm finding that I've already heard a few of his anecodotes from the book on This American Life, but there's a lot more to it.  Mainly it's about what personality traits make a true psychopath and where one can find them in society.  Not too surprisingly, psychiatrists who have made this their focus of study believe that some of the top corporate leaders and politicians are bona fide Patrick Batemans.  Not in the homicidal sense, but they approach work as though they were preying on weaker animals.  I can think of a couple people I've met that might fit this description, but don't worry, if you are reading this you are not one of them.  Probably.

Instead of another boring pic of my basement, I'm putting here a little collage I made of stuff that I sold on eBay earlier this year.  This should brighten up your day:




Helpful hints from Mama Ingrid, et al


Isabella Rossellini wrote a memoir called Some of Me, in which she shared her mother's (Ingrid Bergman, that is) own methods for cleaning up after a party at the Rossellini household.  That advice was, never leave the room empty handed.  That's something I'm taking to heart these days, but I'm taking it a step further.  I never leave the house without something in my hand, or my car, that I won't be bringing back to take up space in my house again!  For example, I take stuff to Goodwill, or to Far West Fibers, which is the massive recycling center off SE Holgate in Portland.  You can take shoes, appliances, and white styrofoam there!

One of my friends told me about a cleanup he did at his own house, where he decided that nothing he didn't want was going back into his bedroom.  So now I'm looking at things more critically to determine if I really want the things I'm keeping around. 

Today I didn't do a whole lot, though I tried.  I put a few things in the car to take over to Village Merchants, one of my favorite thrift stores in town, on SE Division.  When I got there I remembered that they don't take items on Sundays.  So, those things are still in my car.

I shifted a few things around in the basement and took a few things upstairs to sort, so there is a nearly detectable improvement.  At least there are no more falling boxes.


So in the photo above, we have the same view on two different nights.  The one on the left is from tonight, so that is the "after" shot.  I'm getting somewhere but am I just putting the crap in my living space upstairs?  Am I just kidding myself?

PS: I just finished Dangerous Angels, the collected novels of the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block.  It was so good, I had borrowed it from the library but I want to get my own copy to keep.  It's a perfect manual for finding love and beauty in a fucked up and dangerous world, and not losing hope.  It's just what I needed to read right at this time in my life.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Basement Conniption

I'm starting this blog partly to motivate myself to get my basement in better order.  This is what it looks like now, more or less:


Here's another view of it, looking towards the garage entrance:


As you can see, there's almost no visible path through the mess.  It's quite dangerous, in fact.  There's a great many things that were set down just because they could be carried no further, so they piled up on top of one another.  There's been more than one small avalanche.

These were taken about three days ago.  There's been a tiny improvement since, but not much.  This all is a result of cleaning out the store I used to run with my friend Tim, as well as the move of the publishing company I also run.

It's important for me to keep on this project for many reasons.  Besides the obvious eyesore this is, I've been struggling against depression and anxiety for a year.  Chaos like this makes it all worse for me, and when I am anxious or depressed I am less likely to complete chores like this one.  More importantly, if I feel bad I don't do the things I really enjoy doing.  Keeping my hands busy and working through this kind of stuff helps me feel better.  So in a way, this is also a blog about how I'm dealing with those issues.

I'll post some more pictures very soon with the progress I've already made, and the ideas I've had for the cleanup.  I think it will be fun, if challenging.